This significant monumantal work by former visiting professor Rolf Westphal, was removed from the campus for repairs in the late 2000's. It was relegated to an indignant exterior storage space for years with no specific timeline for restoration. Conversations between our esteemed Vice-Presdient Rob Neilson and incoming LU President Berstein prompted action, making this restoration a priority.
Much of the credit goes to the Boldt Company and the group of other Lawrence Faculty who saw the restoration through to its rededication in September of 2014. It is a great success story, yet a cautionary tale about keeping tabs on our public art and maintaining them for the enjoyment of the community and viewing public.
The well know and iconic sculpture that once stood in the heart of Houdini Plaza. When the Plaza was rebuilt in 2009, no accommodation was made to accept this work within the Plaza and it was moved to temporary outdoor storage where it remains to this day.
In 2013, Sculpture Valley presented the Park and Rec department with a range of options for re-sting the sculpture somewhere along the Fox River. Sculpture Valley contends that, whenever possible, permanent monumental sculpture should remain in its original location.
When this option is not feasible, great care should be taken to chose a new site with relevance to and ideally with the prominence of the original site or location.
Given Harry Houdini’s strong biographical ties to the Appleton community, Sculpture Valley feels strongly that any potential relocation site should capitalize on this direct relationship with the magician’s life. A natural option would be to choose a site proximal to the Fox River as a way to underscore the relationship between Houdini’s most famous illusion, represented by the sculpture, and the historical significance of the River to his childhood.